As of Thursday morning, January 5, the general direction and pace of ACA repeal / replace legislation is discernible (details below), but the details are not. News reports suggest that, despite persisting, material differences of opinion among members of the majority, leaders have committed to deliver an ACA bill to the new President by Monday, February 20. Some speaking on behalf of the incoming Administration are forecasting related “executive actions,” without saying what they may be. The choice of those words may be mere political gigging, or may signal a plan to resolve by executive order or administrative “guidance” points on which the Congressional majority fails to agree.
Budget reconciliation bills, immune to Senate filibuster, must be reported out of committees in each chamber by Friday, January 27. We doubt that there will be time to reconcile all competing concerns, and therefore expect that each committee assigned multiple bills will report one, at most, and that assumes that something resembling “regular order” is observed. Conceivably, one bill could be referred to the “Committee of the Whole” for, in effect, immediate floor action in each chamber. Unless the House and Senate-passed Bills are identical, there could be further proceedings to reconcile their differences before final Senate action, under budget reconciliation rules.
Here are the relevant bills and resolutions enacted as of 10:00 am EST, Thursday, January 5.
The Midnight Rules Relief Act (H.R. 21) permits Congress to reject multiple 2016 administrative rules in a single bill.
The Rules for the One Hundred Fifteenth Congress (H. Res. 5) ease the way for quick floor action on ACA repeal and/or replace legislation, requiring sponsors to file their bills by January 27. A pre-passage version is online here. Section 3(c) states that, “Section 1899A of the Social Security Act shall not apply in the One Hundred Fifteenth Congress.” That section of the ACA purports to limit the options of Congress regarding the Independent Payment Advisory Board. See 42 U.S.C. § 1395kkk.
The budget bill (S. Con. Res. 3), tees-up budget reconciliation by requiring such bills to be reported out of Committee in each chamber by January 27, 2017. See §§ 2001(c) and 2002(c). Sections 3001 and 3002 change deficit impact rules to facilitate prompt action on ACA-related legislation.
Repeal bills already filed include H. R. 175 (total repeal, referred to six House committees), and H.R. 173 (Cadillac Plan Tax repeal, referred to Ways and Means).